Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Different learners, self esteem and questions about the wisdom of homeschooling.

There are the questions from mostly other kids but sometimes from adults, why does he do that? or why doesn't he do that yet?   Our youngest didn't read until the age of 10 and we got some questions about it from time to time.  I really appreciate his Sunday School teachers and 4-H teachers accommodating him and letting him be without making us or him feel bad and not turning us into the authorities for suspicion of not homeschooling him properly.  I tried to answer people's questions with respect to him without labeling him when it was a harmful label, but after a while, choosing to use labels when it was helpful.  He has dyslexia/dysgraphia and cannot remember how to spell things and has found it very, very difficult to learn to write.  He has learned to write now and he does get by with spelling, mostly by asking others how to spell things or looking things up.

So how did we deal with this without ruining his self esteem?  (Trust me, it's not ruined.)  We read Leo The Late Bloomer quite often.  It was in a rotation of books that we repeated from time to time.  I also tried to answer questions respectfully to him by saying "He's taking his time" or "He's working on other things right now"  and then after a while I decided to just embrace the labels and say "He's working on overcoming dysgraphia and writing doesn't come easily to him, but he's getting there."  We talked about being "right-brained" which some people say isn't a thing, but there are definitely people who are very smart, but who learn differently than the majority of the population does.  We refered to his reading/spelling/writing difficulties as a "glitch" which could be worked around and also talked about how this could just be within the normal range for human beings.  We talked about scientists and inventors who had trouble with traditional learning and schooling, most notably Albert Einstein who did not talk until he was 4 and did not read until he was 7.    We reminded ourselves and other people (the question askers) that the normal range for a child to walk is 9-18 months and the normal range for a child to learn to read is 6 - 10 years.  

Meanwhile I comforted myself reading everything I could on the subject and trying to relax.  I was not always successful with this and did panic a little bit.  I ordered some learning to read curriculum and tried different methods of working with him, none of which really worked.  Then one day, he just started reading really well.  My daughter said "He bloomed!"  :-)  He got a 34 out of 36 in READING on his ACT earlier this year, his highest score in any section.  Who would have ever thought it?

I have no doubt that if we had kept him in public school, he would have had more of a struggle with his self esteem and not come out of this so well.  I am very glad we stumbled into homeschooling, which we actually did for other reasons.

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